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Eastern Iowa Man Learning to Drive Despite Lack of Arms and Legs

DUBUQUE, Iowa  --  It's hard to keep both hands on the wheel when you don't have any hands, but an eastern Iowa man is proving it can be done.

Jake Hesselman suffers from a rare condition that caused him to be born without arms or legs, but as KWWL's Brad Hanson reports, Jake is hitting the roads with his new driver's license.

"The independence is so awesome. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want," he said.

A special van designed for Jake is giving him new found freedom.

"Obviously I always had to rely on people driving me around and stuff, and be there to go with me, put me in the vehicle, put me out of the vehicle. But now it's all on me, and it's the greatest feeling I've ever had."

Jake is able to operate everything without ever leaving his wheelchair. From opening the door, to steering with the joystick, he not only has his freedom, but he's learning lessons on the road very quickly.

"The amount of people that don't use turn signals is a huge surprise as well," he said.

Jake is able to control things like the turn signal and the windshield wipers from his headrest. These modifications allow him to be the driver instead of the rider all the time.

"I can hang out with my buddies. And I can even drive them, and that's the coolest part, cause they've always been driving me around. So it's like, you get in, I'm driving this time," he said.

Jake's friends say there are still some growing pains to go through, though.

"They think I'm horrible," Jake laughed. "They're like, 'oh you're just a 16-year-old driving.' I'm like, okay. I want to see you guys drive a vehicle with joystick."

Jake is paying for the van in part with donations through a GoFundMe page. In the last ten months, he has raised $58,000 towards his $100,000 goal.